Posts Tagged ‘Who’s this rando blogging’

Making People Look

Monday, April 8th, 2013

When discussing Yusef Komunyakaa’s “History Lessons”, Professor Scanlon said how in part, this poem was about “making people look” at the realities of race relations during the civil rights era time, and that struck me, because I believe that “making people look” is the theme of all of Komunyakaa’s work, not only with “History Lessons” and “The Whistle”, but with his “Dien Cai Dau” poems as well.

I cannot help but project my own thoughts and feelings onto Komunyakaa’s work, so perhaps I am being too introspective, but I think that the time he spent in Vietnam really aided in the expository nature of his poems.  Having spent time traveling in Vietnam myself, I can definitely see how “making people look” is much more of a cultural norm there than it is here.  Here, when American readers are forced to look at ugly, harsh, painful, and oftentimes embarrassing reflections of their own society, the reaction of the readers is that of shock.  We’re not made to look at harsh realities enough, and I think Komunyakaa knows that.

An interesting example of this is when I visited the Vietnam/American War Museum in Saigon.  The theme of the museum was to really expose the events of the war to the public in a very honest and visual way.  There are several rooms and floors to the museum, each one dedicated to a different problem caused by the war through walls and walls of large photographs.  The room that definitely sticks out the most is the Agent Orange room, in which there were masses of pictures of nothing but children and their malformed bodies as a result of Agent Orange. Other picture galleries in the museum were of people who were physically disabled because of the war, people who were mourning the loss of loved ones, and people who were in the middle of fighting.  What I saw in pictures, though, Komunyakaa saw first hand.

I suppose what I’m trying to say is that Vietnam really really really affected Komunyakaa and his writing style, and I’m diggin it, because I think it’s important for people to see what they don’t necessarily want to.  Homeless people, disabled people, impoverished disfigured children, mourning wives, fighting soldiers, butchered animals, beautiful paddies and jungles and villages turned into warzones….all of these things deserve to be seen, just like the racially charged and violent scenes of the American civil rights movement deserve to be seen. So, way to go, Komunyakaa!  I’m diggin you.

Probably not substantive enough to be post-worthy, but…

Thursday, March 7th, 2013

I figured, why not?

When Professor Scanlon mentioned during our intro to the Confessional unit the fact that Slyvia Plath is the most romanticized of the Confessional poets because of her early suicide, I thought of Kurt Cobain.  I think that Plath is to the Confessionals what Kurt is to grunge/rock music.  They were both young, attractive, and exceedingly talented.  Both of their lives were cut short because of their suicides.

In both Plath and Cobain lies an idyllic symbol of Suffering, because they are both Really Sad but also Really Beautiful and Really Young, and therefore acceptable idols for those just discovering the respective genres.

At the same time, it’s easy to decide “no, they’re not worthy of my respect” BECAUSE they’re such mainstream symbols of their genres.  But let’s not be hipsters, guys. (Who am I kidding…this is UMW.)

I think it’s important to respect that both of these artists were pretty damn good, but it’s also important to note that their reputation is problematic in the sense that they are too idealized because of their beauty and circumstance of death.


I mean, look at that face.




Dang!  She cute too!

Pablo Neruda- “It Is Not Necessary”

Thursday, February 28th, 2013

It is not necessary to whistle
To be alone,
To live in the dark.

Out in the crowd, under the wide sky,
we remember our separate selves,
the intimate self, the naked self,
the only self who knows how the nails grow,
who knows how his own silence is made
and his own poor words.
There is a public Pedro,
seen in the light, an adequate Bernice,
but inside,
underneath age and clothing,
we still don’t have a name,
we are quite different.
Eyes don’t close only in order to sleep,
but so as not to see the same sky.

We soon grow tired,
and as if they were sounding the bell
to call us to school,
we return to the hidden flower,
to the bone, the half-hidden root,
and there we suddenly are,
we are the pure, forgotten self,
the true being
within the four walls of our singular skin,
between the two points of living and dying.

Brooks, anything but Babbling

Wednesday, February 27th, 2013

Actually, the babbling might be done on my part…

I am just very much enamored with Brooks, stylistically in particular. Her half rhymes are brilliant, and she has a great knack for internal rhyme– and those are two of my special favorite parts of reading poetry. In my opinion, one of the greatest delights of reading poetry is that it TASTES like something when the words take shape. Now, maybe that makes me sound like I’m experiencing synesthesia, but seriously, words have tastes, and poems, if done well, are entire meals. And I’m finding Brooks’ more than palatable.

My favorite passage in everything we read for our upcoming class actually occurs in our “first” page of reading, pg. 58, and goes as follows:

Oh oh. Too much. Too much. Even now, surmise,
She rises in the sunshine. There she goes,
Back to the bars she knew and the repose
In love-rooms and the things in people’s eyes.
Too vital and too squeaking. Must emerge. (5-9).

Ironically, this part of the poem, which I think is the most shattering part of the account of Cousin Vit, is written almost exclusively in iambic pentameter. Excepting the first line, which is full of Brooks’ characteristic spondees, it is rhythmically sound and hardly strays from the five even feet per line.

However, after reading further in the book, this is atypical of Brooks’ style: she is definitely a fan of spondees, and these lines could have easily been written more emphatically, with more stressed words and accents. My question is this: by letting us as readers “settle” into the comfortable ka-THUNK ka-THUNK rhyhtm of even iambs, was Brooks intentionally dulling the impact of recounting her cousin’s life in such personal terms, by making it seem “even-keeled” and “normal”? Or is it a slip of the wrist so that we are meant to note the striking discordance between her content and her form at such a poignant time in the poem? Just a thought, y’all. Told you I’m babbling.

I Heart Gwendolyn Brooks. Like Mad.

Tuesday, February 19th, 2013

But do note this change in our schedule for FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 22:

Brooks: “The Anniad” (37-49); “the children of the poor” #s 1 (52), 2 (53), 3 (53); Ginsberg short writing due.  Bring your anthologies to return to poets from Monday.


Bilbo Baggins Has Exquisite Literary Taste; or, Why I Had a Hard Time Doing My Reading Last Night

Friday, January 25th, 2013

bilbo and bishop 2013


Saturday, January 19th, 2013

Groups, dates, topics now uploaded under the Assignments tab.

Relevant to the weather

Sunday, January 13th, 2013
THE fog comes
on little cat feet.
It sits looking
over harbor and city
on silent haunches
and then moves on.